I recently heard someone ask, "What is a great 'from the heart' gift you would recommend for this Christmas season?" I immediately thought of the gift I gave my dear grandmother for her 83rd birthday (her birthday was in December).
I remember sitting down and brainstorming for ideas. Then, a memory began to surface from the depths of my mind. I recalled sitting in Granny's lap one cold December night, rocking in her old rocking chair. We were in front of the old kitchen fireplace, where a roaring fire was blazing. I remember feeling very warm and safe.
Right away, I began to write. I began to tell her (in my letter) of meaningful moments I had spent with her, from my earliest recollections until my adulthood. Some things I wrote of may have been mundane to her, but I described each one as I remembered them (through the eyes of a small child).
There were the times I followed her as she did her daily chores, milking the cows, gathering the eggs and doing the laundry. I described for her, in detail, what made these moments meaningful to me. For instance, I was terrified of her chickens, but she walked right up to their nests and took the eggs out from under the hens without blinking an eye. I thought she was the bravest person I had ever seen. And how she milked those huge cows, squirting the milk into a bucket. The creamy white liquid would hit the bottom of the bucket and foam up into "rainbow bubbles." I could see the iridescent reflections on each one.
I went on to tell her what I remembered about her that was etched into my memory. I talked of her unique hairstyle that my Grandfather offered me $5 to duplicate. I tried, but was never able to accomplish it. Also, I wrote about her favorite hobby, fishing, and how she looked in her fishing gear, her work ethic (get it done!), her cooking skills (too many to mention), etc.
It was more or less a chronological telling of "precious memories." I sent it to her with a certain amount of trepidation. Granny was a rather stoic person. She just took everything in stride. I didn't know if she would appreciate all the thinking, writing, editing, etc. that went into this labor of love. At the very least, I knew that she would know how I felt about her and the impact she had made upon my life. I had asked my cousin to read it to her (Granny had cataracts and didn't see too well at the time.) I was told later that she was really touched by it and asked for it to be read several times.
I have realized the value of sharing your memories with those you love. I shared a memorial poem with the family of my late uncle. I later wrote a letter of remembrance for my mother on Mother's Day. I also wrote a poem for my aunt and uncle on the occasion of their fiftieth wedding anniversary (printed on parchment paper and beautifully framed). And the latest project is a poem of an uncle's daredevil exploits as a boy.
With a little time and perhaps a lot of thought, you, too, can present the people you love with a lasting treasure.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com
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